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MINISTRY of JUSTICE LEGAL REFORMS: Treatments aggravating disease instead of curing

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By Kalyananda Tiranagama

Executive Director

Lawyers for Human Rights and Development

The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act No. 14 of 2021 and the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Amendment) Act No. 15 of 2021 were passed by Parliament on July 6, 2021 under the Law Reforms Project of the Ministry of Justice for the purpose of making the country torture free by strengthening the law against torture.

This Criminal Procedure Amendment requires every Magistrate to visit every police station situated within his judicial division, at least once in every month and examine the persons detained therein. Torture Convention Amendment Act has increased the fines that can be imposed on persons found guilty of torture.

Commencing the Second Reading Debate on these two Acts, the Minister of Justice had said in Parliament that Articles 11 and 13 (5) of the Constitution have guaranteed freedom from torture and presumption of innocence of every person, until proved guilty by law. The Release of Remand Prisoners Act of 1991 enabled the Magistrates to visit prisons, but the proposed Amendments have gone further to guarantee freedom from torture. The Government has identified the importance of treating suspects humanely and this proposal is just one of the measures that the Government takes to guarantee these rights of the people.

However, how lofty the Minister’s objective may be, it can be categorically stated that the Government would never be able to achieve its declared objective of eradication of torture in custody with these amendments. Both these are impracticable and unnecessary Amendments brought in, without a proper understanding of the ground realities and the actual operation of the existing law. The concerned authorities have found the Torture Act of 1994 impracticable due to an inherent weakness in a provision in the Act. Without identifying and removing that obstacle that retards its effective implementation, torture cannot be eliminated by increasing the fines.

Torture Act Amendment

By this Amendment Act, S. 2 of the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Act No. 22 of 1994 has been amended in subsection (4) of that section by substituting for the words ‘a fine not less than 10,000 rupees and not exceeding 50.000 rupees‘ of the words ‘a fine not less than 50,000 rupees and not exceeding 200,000 rupees.‘

Over the years, in a large number of fundamental rights applications the Supreme Court has found law enforcement officers responsible for torture and ordered them personally to pay compensation to the victims of torture. Human Rights Commission also has found in its inquiries a large number of officers responsible for torture and ordered them to pay compensation to the victims. Yet since the enactment of the Torture Act in 1994, only a very small number of officers have been prosecuted under the Torture Act.

The Torture Act of 1994 contains an inherent flow which prevents its provisions from being effectively implemented. Under S. 2 of the Act torture, or the attempt to commit, or aiding and abetting in committing or conspiring to commit torture is a criminal offence punishable with imprisonment for a term not less than 7 years and not exceeding 10 years and a fine not less than 10,000 and not exceeding 50,000 rupees. Not only torture but even attempt to commit or conspiracy to commit torture is punishable with the same penalty, a mandatory minimum jail sentence of seven years and a minimum fine of 10,000 rupees. A police officer who slaps a man on his face causing a minor scratch, if indicted under the Torture Act, will invariably get a jail sentence of seven years.

Under the normal criminal law of the country, the maximum penalty that can be imposed for causing simple hurt, even with a sharp cutting weapon, causing the victim to receive treatment in a hospital for several days, is six months jail sentence. It is a compoundable offence. A court has no jurisdiction to entertain a case for causing simple hurt under S. 314 of the Penal Code without a certificate from a Mediation Board certifying that the dispute cannot be settled. In torture cases, under the Act, the Court has no discretion, but to impose the mandatory minimum jail sentence laid down in the Act. It is common knowledge that our Courts give suspended sentences to accused even in murder cases when they plead guilty for culpable homicide not amounting to murder under certain circumstances.

The maximum penalty that can be imposed even on the worst torturer who subjects the victim to the most cruel, degrading and inhuman acts of torture is 10 years imprisonment. There is no much of a difference between the minimum sentence and the maximum sentence despite the varying degrees of acts of torture. Courts have no discretion on the matter of sentence. This imbalance in sentences which does not take into consideration the different grades of culpability has prevented the law enforcement agencies from giving effect to this provision of the Torture Act. So long as the minimum and maximum penalties for torture remains in this state, the Police, the Attorney General’s Department and the Courts will find it difficult to act on this law.

Sri Lanka acceded to the UN Convention against Torture in January 1994. In its first four-yearly periodical country report presented to the UN Committee against Torture in May 1998 outlining the steps taken to eliminate torture and punish perpetrators of torture, Sri Lankan Authorities had made a clever attempt to cover up its failure to prosecute torturers under Torture Act. The Report stated that action against torture had a place in Sri Lanka’s law since 1883 and that any person who tortures another would be guilty of an offence punishable under the criminal law of the country. It referred to Ss. 310 – 329 of the Penal Code dealing with voluntarily causing hurt.

Considering Sri Lanka’s Periodical Country Reports, the UN Committee has expressed its concerns repeatedly on the failure of Sri Lankan Authorities to deal with torturers under the provisions of the Torture Act.

In S. C. Reference No. 03/08, the Supreme Court, citing several previous Supreme Court decisions, discussed at length the constitutionality and the impact of mandatory sentences on the exercise of judicial discretion and held that the minimum mandatory sentence in S. 364(2)(e) of the Penal Code is in conflict with Articles 4(c), 11 and 12(1) of the Constitution and that the High Court is not inhibited from imposing a sentence that it deems appropriate in the exercise of its judicial discretion notwithstanding the minimum mandatory sentence laid down in the law.

A few years back, some Police Officers were indicted under the Torture Act in a High Court case and, on conviction, sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment. They appealed against the sentence and the Court of Appeal, following the Supreme Court Judgement in S. C. Reference No. 03/08, varied the sentence of seven to two years imprisonment.

As early as 1999, in its comments on the first periodical report of the Government of Sri Lanka to the UN Committee in 1998, the Lawyers for Human Rights and Development (LHRD) pointed out this weakness in the Torture Act and the urgent need of amending the provision relating to minimum mandatory sentences of imprisonment allowing judicial discretion on the matter of sentence.

So long as the Torture Act remains in this state, the Authorities will find it difficult and be hesitant to prosecute their colleagues involved in torture under the provisions of the Torture Act. This amendment brought to the Torture Act for increasing fines that can be imposed for the offences under the Act is an utterly meaningless exercise. Torture cannot be eliminated by increasing fines. What is important is not the heavier penalties, but prosecuting all offenders under the provisions of the Torture Act. Only then it will have a deterrent effect. If the government is serious about giving effect to the law, it should amend the Torture Act laying down more realistic penalties compatible with the ordinary criminal law of the country and take necessary steps to enforce the law directing the IGP and the AG to prosecute all offenders.

Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act No. 14 of 2021

The enactment of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act No. 14 of 2021 is also another meaningless exercise. There was no need at all to bring this amendment and it will not serve any purpose. Existing legal provisions and judicial practices are quite adequate to address the problems if properly enforced with necessary guidelines and supervision. This Amendment will only add an additional, unnecessary burden on Magistrates. It is another instance of these legal advisers of the Ministry groping in the darkness without any understanding of the ground realities.

This Amendment has added a new Section – S. 43B to the Criminal Procedure Code:

S. 43B (1) It shall be the duty of every Magistrate to visit every police station situated within his judicial division, at least once in every month to ensure that the suspects under the police custody at such police station are protected to the extent provided for in the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Act No. 22 of 1994.

(2) For the purpose of subsection (1), the Magistrate who visits the police station shall (a) personally see the suspect, and look into his well-being, welfare and conditions under which he is kept at such police station: and (b) record his observations and any complaint the suspect may make.

(3) Where the Magistrate is of the opinion that the suspect may have been subjected to torture, the Magistrate may direct that the suspect be produced before a JMO or a govt. medical officer for medical examination, and a report be submitted by such medical officer to the Magistrate.

(4) Where the report of such medical officer reveals that the suspect has been subjected to torture, the Magistrate shall make an appropriate order, including directions to provide necessary medical treatment to the suspect and to change the place of custody of such suspect.

(5) The Magistrate shall also direct the IGP to commence an investigation into the alleged torture in order to enable the AG to institute criminal proceedings against the person who is alleged to have committed the torture.

This is impracticable and meaningless for the following reasons:

This amendment requires every Magistrate to visit every police station situated within his judicial division, at least once a month. It is a matter of common knowledge that almost all the Magistrate’s Courts are overburdened with work, having a large number of cases to handle every day. In the Judicial Division of every Magistrate’s Court there are 3 – 4 police stations. Despite their heavy schedules, every month a Magistrate will be compelled to devote at least two days to discharge this additional burden placed on them.

Under the normal law of the country, a person arrested cannot be detained in Police custody for more than 24 hours, they have to be produced before the lapse of 24 hours before a Magistrate. Such detention in Police custody over 24 hours is a violation of fundamental rights. Suspects arrested on the previous day are produced before the Magistrate on the following day before the lapse of 24 hours. Suspects are not arrested and not kept in Police custody every day. Quite often the Magistrates will find in their visits that there are no suspects held in Police custody for them to examine.

Persons arrested can be kept in custody for more than 24 hours only when arrests are made under laws with special provisions for detention of suspects such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act, Emergency Regulations or the Opium and Dangerous Drugs Ordinance. Persons arrested and detained under these laws are not kept at Police Stations, but in special Police Units such as the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Terrorist Investigation Division (TID), Crime Detection Bureau (CDB) or the Narcotics Bureau of the Police.

Instead of making provisions for visiting these special units of investigations and examining detainees held therein, there is no point in requiring all Magistrates to visit all the Police Stations in the country situated within their jurisdictions.

Moreover, there are other institutions already functioning with adequate powers, facilities and resources to make regular visits to police stations like the Human Rights Commission (HRC) of Sri Lanka. HRC has a 24-hour functioning hotline to receive complaints of torture and illegal detention of suspects in excess of 24 hours. The moment HRC receives a complaint of torture or arrests and detention of persons, HRC officials immediately contact the relevant Police Station and conduct inquiries, visiting the place if necessary. We know of a large number of instances where the HRC has intervened over the years in this manner.

As the Minister himself has mentioned in his speech in Parliament, there is an Act enacted in 1991 requiring all Magistrates to visit Prisons situated within their judicial divisions once a month.

S. 5 of the Release of Remand Prisoners Act No. 8 of 1991 requires every Magistrate to visit every prison situated within the judicial division in respect of which he is so appointed, at least once a month.

However, only a handful of Magistrates in the country have complied with this legal requirement. If the Ministry of Justice could ensure that this legal requirement is strictly complied with by all Magistrates that would certainly result in addressing many of the grievances of suspects in custody and reduction of the heavy congestion in our prisons.

As held by the Supreme Court in fundamental rights applications, when a suspect is produced in Court from Police custody it is the duty of the Magistrate to question and probe the suspect so produced and record his observations. To do that the Magistrate need not visit Police stations.

In this connection it is relevant to quote from the Supreme Court Judgement of Justice L. H. G. Wijesekera in the case of Pradeep Kumar Dharmaratne vs. Inspector of Police Dharmaratne and others, S. C. Appn. No. 163/98, SCM 17. 12. 1998: “In my opinion it is indeed a matter of concern and trepidation that Magistrates in spite of repeated reminders by this Court do not exercise what is their duty, namely to question and probe from a person produced before them from Police custody and to so record his observations. It has been my experience that Magistrates did act so and it was a deterrent to breaches of fundamental rights even when they were not enshrined by a constitution. It is a further tragedy that some members of the legal profession do not act with courage and fearlessness in what is their duty. I say so with responsibility inasmuch as an allegation of assault and of torture has been made to the Superintendent of Police on the 17th of February 1998 after this release of the petitioner by the Magistrate in consequence of which the petitioner was produced before the JMO, but the Attorneys-at-Law did not bring this to the notice of the Magistrate.’’

If the Ministry of Justice is serious about guaranteeing freedom from torture what the Ministry should do is not enacting this type meaningless and impracticable amendments but issuing a Circular to all Magistrates with the approval of the Judicial Service Commission stressing the need of strict compliance with the provisions in the existing law and the Supreme Court decisions and call for regular reports on the compliance with directions in the Circulars.



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Features

Glimmers of hope?

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The newly appointed Cabinet Ministers leaves Cass un-uplifted. She need not elaborate. She wishes fervently that Dr Harsha de Silva will leave party loyalty aside and consider the country. Usually, it’s asking politicians to cast aside self-interest, which very rarely is done in the political culture that came to be after the 1970s. Thus, it is very unusual, completely out of the ordinary to appeal to Dr Harsha to forego party loyalty and do the very needful for the country by accepting the still vacant post of Minister of Finance. We are very sorry Eran W too has kept himself away.

Some of Cassandra’s readers may ask whether she is out of her right mind to see glimmers of hope for the country. She assures them she is as sane as can be; she does cling onto these straws like the dying man does. How else exist? How else get through these dire times?

What are the straws she clings to? News items in The Island of Tuesday 24 May.

‘Sirisena leaves Paget Road mansion in accordance with SC interim injunction.’ And who was instrumental in righting this wrong? The CPA and its Executive Director Dr Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu. It is hoped that revisions to the system will come in such as giving luxury housing and other extravagant perks to ex-presidents and their widows. Sri Lanka has always lived far beyond its means in the golden handshakes to its ex- prezs and also perks given its MPs. At least luxury vehicles should not be given them. Pensions after five years in Parliament should be scrapped forthwith.

‘Letter of demand sent to IGP seeking legal action against DIG Nilantha Jayawardena.’ Here the mover is The Centre for Society and Religion and it is with regard to the Easter Sunday massacre which could have been prevented if DIG Jayawardena as Head of State Intelligence had taken necessary action once intelligence messages warned of attack on churches.

‘CIABOC to indict Johnston, Keheliya and Rohitha’. It is fervently hoped that this will not be another charge that blows away with the wind. They do not have their strongest supporter – Mahinda R to save them. We so fervently hope the two in power now will let things happened justly, according to the law of the land.

‘Foreign Secy Admiral Colombage replaced’. And by whom? A career diplomat who has every right and qualification for the post; namely Aruni Wijewardane. If this indicates a fading of the prominence given to retired armed forces personnel in public life and administration, it is an excellent sign. Admiral Colombage had tendered his resignation, noted Wednesday’s newspaper.

‘Crisis caused by decades of misuse public resources, corruption, kleptocracy – TISL’.

Everyone knew this, even the despicable thieves and kleptocrats. The glaring question is why no concerted effort was made to stop the thieving from a country drawn to bankruptcy by politicians and admin officers. There are many answers to that question. It was groups, mostly of the middle class who came out first in candle lit vigils and then at the Gotagogama Village. The aragalaya has to go down in history as the savior of our nation from a curse worse than war. The civil war was won against many odds. But trying to defeat deceit power-hunger and thieving was near impossible. These protestors stuck their necks out and managed to rid from power most of the Rajapaksa family. That was achievement enough.

Heartfelt hope of the many

The newly appointed Cabinet Ministers leaves Cass un-uplifted. She need not elaborate. She wishes fervently that Dr Harsha de Silva will leave party loyalty aside and consider the country. Usually, it’s asking politicians to cast aside self interest, which very rarely is done in the political culture that came to be after the 1970s. Thus, it is very unusual, completely out of the ordinary to appeal to Dr Harsha to forego party loyalty and do the very needful for the country by accepting the still vacant post of Minister of Finance. We are very sorry Eran W too has kept himself away. As Shamindra Ferdinando writes in the newspaper mentioned, “Well informed sources said that Premier Wickremesinghe was still making efforts to win over some more Opposition members. Sources speculated that vital finance portfolio remained vacant as the government still believed (hoped Cass says) Dr Harsha de Silva could somehow be convinced to accept that portfolio.”

Still utterly hopeless

Gas is still unavailable for people like Cass who cannot stand in queues, first to get a token and then a cylinder. Will life never return to no queues for bare essentials? A woman friend was in a petrol queue for a solid twelve hours – from 4 am to 4 pm. This is just one of million people all over the country in queues. Even a common pressure pill was not available in 20 mg per.

Cassandra considers a hope. We saw hundreds of Sri Lankans all across the globe peacefully protesting for departure of thieves from the government. The ex-PM, Mahinda Rajapaksa’s answer to this was to unleash absolute terror on all of the island. It seems to be that with Johnson a younger MP stood commandingly.

Returning from that horror thought to the protesters overseas, Cass wondered if each of them contributed one hundred dollars to their mother country, it would go a long way to soften the blows we are battered with. Of course, the absolute imperative is that of the money, not a cent goes into personal pockets. The donors must be assured it goes to safety. Is that still not possible: assuring that donations are used for the purpose they are sent for: to alleviate the situation of Sri Lankans? I suppose the memory of tsunami funds going into the Helping Hambantota Fund is still fresh in memory. So much for our beloved country.

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Ban on agrochemicals and fertilisers: Post-scenario analysis

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By Prof. Rohan Rajapakse

(Emeritus Professor of Agriculture Biology UNIVERSITY OF RUHUNA and Former Executive Director Sri Lanka Council of Agriculture Research Policy)

There are two aspects of the ban on agrochemicals. The first is the ban on chemical fertilisers, and the second is the ban on the use of pesticides. Several eminent scientists, Dr Parakrama Waidyanatha (formerly the Soil Scientist of RRI), Prof OA Ileperuma (Former Professor of Chemistry University of Peradeniya), Prof C. S. Weeraratne (former Professor of Agronomy University of Ruhuna), Prof D. M. de Costa University of Peradeniya, Prof. Buddhi Marambe (Professor in Weed Science University of Peradeniya) have effectively dealt with the repercussion of the ban on chemical fertilisers which appeared in The Island newspaper on recently.

The major points summarised by these authors are listed below.

FERTILISER ISSUE

1. These scientists, including the author, are of the view that the President’s decision to totally shift to organic agriculture from conventional could lead to widespread hunger and starvation in future, which has become a reality. Organic farming is a small phenomenon in global agriculture, comprising a mere 1.5% of total farmlands, of which 66% are pasture.

2. Conventional farming (CF) is blamed for environmental pollution; however, in organic farming, heavy metal pollution and the release of carbon dioxide and methane, two greenhouse gases from farmyard manure, are serious pollution issues with organic farming that have been identified.

3. On the other hand, the greatest benefit of organic fertilisers as against chemical fertilisers is the improvement of soil’s physical, chemical and biological properties by the former, which is important for sustained crop productivity. The best option is to use appropriate combinations of organic and chemical fertilisers, which can also provide exacting nutrient demands of crops and still is the best option!

4. Sri Lanka has achieved self-sufficiency in rice due to the efforts of the Research Officers of the Department of Agriculture, and all these efforts will be in vain if we abruptly ban the import of fertiliser. These varieties are bred primarily on their fertiliser response. While compost has some positive effects such as improving soil texture and providing some micronutrients, it cannot be used as a substitute for fertiliser needed by high yielding varieties of rice. Applying organic fertilisers alone will not help replenish the nutrients absorbed by a crop. Organic fertilisers have relatively small amounts of the nutrients that plants need. For example, compost has only 2% nitrogen (N), whereas urea has 46% N. Banning the import of inorganic fertilisers will be disastrous, as not applying adequate amounts of nutrients will cause yields to drop, making it essential to increase food imports. Sri Lankan farmers at present are at the mercy of five organizations, namely the Central Department of Agriculture, the Provincial Ministry of Agriculture, the Private sector Pesticide Companies, the Non-Government organizations and the leading farmers who are advising them. Instead, improved agricultural extension services to promote alternative non-chemical methods of pest control and especially the use of Integrated Pest Management.

Locally, pest control depends mostly on the use of synthetic pesticides; ready to use products that can be easily procured from local vendors are applied when and where required Abuse and misapplication of pesticides is a common phenomenon in Sri Lanka. Even though many farmers are aware of the detrimental aspects of pesticides they often use them due to economic gains

We will look at the post scenario of
what has happened

1. The importation of Chemical fertilisers and Pesticides was banned at the beginning of Maha season 1 on the advice of several organic manure (OM) promoters by the Ministry of agriculture.

2. The Ministry of Agriculture encouraged the farmers to use organic manure, and an island-wide programme of producing Organic manure were initiated. IT took some time for the government to realize that Sri Lanka does not have the capacity to produce such a massive amount of OM, running into 10 tons per hectare for 500000 hectares ear marked in ma ha season.

3. Hence the government approved the importation of OM from abroad, and a Company in China was given an initial contract to produce OM produced from Seaweed. However, the scientists from University of Peradeniya detected harmful microorganisms in this initial consignment, and the ship was forced to leave Sri Lankan waters at a cost of US dollar 6.7 million without unloading its poisonous cargo. No substitute fertiliser consignment was available.

4. A committee in the Ministry hastily recommended to import NANO RAJA an artificial compound from India to increase the yield by spraying on to leaves. Sri Lanka lost Rs 863 million as farmers threw all these Nano Raja bottles and can as it attracts dogs and wild boar.

Since there is no other option the Ministry promised to pay Rs 50000 per hectare for all the farmers who lost their livelihood. It is not known how much the country lost due to this illogical decision of banning fertilisers and pesticides.

Recommendations

1. Judicious use of pesticides is recommended.

2. The promotion and the use of integrated pest management techniques whenever possible

3. To minimize the usage of pesticides:

Pesticide traders would be permitted to sell pesticides only through specially trained Technical Assistants.

Issuing pesticides to the farmers for which they have to produce some kind of a written recommendation by a local authority.

Introduction of new mechanism to dispose or recycle empty pesticide and weedicide bottles in collaboration with the Environment Ministry.

Laboratory-testing of imported pesticides by the Registrar of Pesticides at the entry-point to ensure that banned chemicals were not brought into the country.

Implementation of trained core of people who can apply pesticides.

Education campaigns to train farmers, retailers, distributors, and public with the adverse effects of pesticides.

Maximum Residue Level (MRL) to reduce the consumer’s risk of exposure to unsafe levels.

Integrated pest Management and organic agriculture to be promoted.

1. To ensure the proper usage of agrochemicals by farmers

All those who advised the Minister of Agriculture and the President to shift to OM still wield authority in national food production effort. The genuine scientists who predicted the outcome are still harassed sacked from positions they held in MA and were labelled as private sector goons. The danger lies if the farmers decide not to cultivate in this Maha season due to non-availability of fertilisers and pesticides the result will be an imminent famine.

The country also should have a professional body like the Planning Commission of

India, with high calibre professionals in the Universities and the Departments and

There should be institutions and experts to advise the government on national policy matters.

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Thomians triumph in Sydney 

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Nothing is happening for us, at this end, other than queues, queues, and more queues! There’s very little to shout about were the sports and entertainment scenes are concerned. However, Down Under, the going seems good.

Sri Lankans, especially in Melbourne, Australia, have quite a lot of happenings to check out, and they all seem to be having a jolly good time!

Trevine Rodrigo,

who puts pen to paper to keep Sri Lankans informed of the events in Melbourne, was in Sydney, to taken in the scene at the Sri Lanka Schools Sevens Touch Rugby competition. And, this is Trevine’s report:

The weather Gods and S.Thomas aligned, in Sydney, to provide the unexpected at the Sri Lanka Schools Sevens Touch Rugby competition, graced by an appreciative crowd.

Inclement weather was forecast for the day, and a well drilled Dharmaraja College was expected to go back-to-back at this now emerging competition in Sydney’s Sri Lanka expatriate sporting calendar.

But the unforeseen was delivered, with sunny conditions throughout, and the Thomians provided the upset of the competition when they stunned the favourites, Dharmaraja, in the final, to grab the Peninsula Motor Group Trophy.

Still in its infancy, the Sevens Touch Competition, drawn on the lines of Rugby League rules, found new flair and more enthusiasm among its growing number of fans, through the injection of players from around Australia, opposed to the initial tournament which was restricted to mainly Sydneysiders.

A carnival like atmosphere prevailed throughout the day’s competition.

Ten teams pitted themselves in a round robin system, in two groups, and the top four sides then progressed to the semi-finals, on a knock out basis, to find the winner.

A food stall gave fans the opportunity to keep themselves fed and hydrated while the teams provided the thrills of a highly competitive and skilled tournament.

The rugby dished out was fiercely contested, with teams such as Trinity, Royal and St. Peter’s very much in the fray but failing to qualify after narrow losses on a day of unpredictability.

Issipathana and Wesley were the other semi-finalists with the Pathanians grabbing third place in the play-off before the final.

The final was a tense encounter between last year’s finalists Dharmaraja College and S.Thomas. Form suggested that the Rajans were on track for successive wins in as many attempts.  But the Thomians had other ideas.

The fluent Rajans, with deft handling skills and evasive running, looked the goods, but found the Thomian defence impregnable.  Things were tied until the final minutes when the Thomians sealed the result with an intercept try and hung on to claim the unthinkable.

It was perhaps the price for complacency on the Rajans part that cost them the game and a lesson that it is never over until the final whistle.

Peninsula Motor Group, headed by successful businessman Dilip Kumar, was the main sponsor of the event, providing playing gear to all the teams, and prize money to the winners and runners-up.

The plan for the future is to make this event more attractive and better structured, according to the organisers, headed by Deeptha Perera, whose vision was behind the success of this episode.

In a bid to increase interest, an over 40’s tournament, preceded the main event, and it was as interesting as the younger version.

Ceylon Touch Rugby, a mixed team from Melbourne, won the over 40 competition, beating Royal College in the final.

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